Stacking the Deck

by matttbastard

More Notes From Underground points to a somewhat dismissive Toronto Star article by Queens Park Bureau Chief Rob Benzie claiming that 70% of Ontarians are “not familiar” with the 10/10 MMP referendum. Upsetting, but not entirely unexpected:

NDP Leader Howard Hampton, who backs MMP because “electoral results will more accurately reflect people’s voting intention,” says it’s no coincidence the referendum is below the radar.

“I would say that the government’s already stacked the deck against proportional representation,” says the only major party leader actively campaigning for MMP.

Indeed, unlike most Canadian referendums, there is no Yes or No question. “Which electoral system should Ontario use to elect members to the provincial legislature?” reads the ballot, which requires voters to mark one of two boxes. “The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post),” or “The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional).”

Hampton points to the “vague” wording of the referendum question and the high – 60 per cent – threshold for its passage as evidence the fix is in.

He says “people are confused” because normally votes in Canada pass with 50 per cent plus one, not 60 per cent.

While the 104-member Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform held months of public hearings before selecting MMP as an alternative electoral system to be put to a referendum, the Liberals crafted the question.

First of all, kudos to Hampton for finally jumping on board the MMP bandwagon (one shouldn’t really be surprised that the Star doesn’t consider Frank DeJong and the Greens to be ‘major’). Secondly, as Steve Withers illustrates, there’s more evidence “that the fix is in”:

Will we be “fully informed” by the Elections Ontario Information Campaign?

The answer would appear to be a resounding NO.


Because they are not required to explain to anyone WHY the Ontario Citizens Assembly recommended MMP for Ontario. So the EO is producing no information about why MMP was recommended. Yes, there are links to the OCA web site here and there on the web site, but the rationale for adopting MMP is nowhere to be seen in the primary information on offer. It’s buried.

Ok….so we still have the OCA pamphlets and booklets to inform us, right?


Despite strong and growing public demand as people wake up to the huge void in the official information campaign, the government now refuses to print any more OCA materials. The 500,000 [p]amphlets is supposed to be enough. If you don’t have one, I guess you can go door knocking looking for one or maybe check the auctions on Ebay.

The findings of the OCA are now being dismissed as “advocacy material” by the very same Democratic Renewal Ministry that ran the entire deliberative process that produced the MMP recommendation. To be fair to the Minister, Marie Bountrogianni, this decision was mostly likely imposed on her from above.

Finally, in a potentially (bitter) ironic twist, Uncorrected Proofs notes that the aforementioned Star piece also reveals a member of the educated 30% who may be a most unexpected (silent) ally of electoral reform:

Premier Dalton McGuinty, who first broached the subject of sweeping electoral reform more than a year before he won power in 2003, is publicly remaining neutral. But privately he is believed to favour MMP because, sources say, “he’s a Boy Scout on this stuff.”

All McGuinty will say on the record is he welcomes the dissenting views on the subject within his cabinet and the Liberal caucus.

“This is not something that’s going to be decided by a few cabinet ministers, it’s going to be something that’s decided by millions of Ontario voters. I look forward to their advice,” the premier says.

While I’m tickled a particularly bright shade of pink that ol’ Dalton earned himself a merit badge in proportional representation back in the dizzay, the fact that someone high up in his  government appears to have stacked the deck against MMP makes his off-the-record kabuki support entirely irrelevant, if not crassly insulting to the intelligence of true electoral reform supporters.

Vote for MMP

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The Rising Sun?

by matttbastard

After this past week’s visit to Kyoto by Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan (which followed an attempt earlier this year at repairing frayed Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties), China is doing its best to calm Japanese concerns about China’s decade-long military expansion.

But AP reports that Japanese Defense Minister Masahiko Komura feels that Gangchuan “failed to address Japan’s concerns over surging Chinese military spending during talks this week”. Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s recent wooing of conservative elements in the Japanese government who view China as a strategic threat could indicate a more muscular Japanese defence and foreign policy is indeed in store. Japan’s recent nationalistic furvor (at times disturbingly aggressive) should not be discounted, either.

And of course there’s the ever-present nuclear question

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